Managing our travel emissions

Business travel remains our single largest source of carbon emissions, and - as we’ve continued to reduce our emissions from energy - has grown to around 80% of our total carbon footprint in 2017 (scope 1, 2 & 3). Air travel accounts for most of this (70% of our total emissions) making it a high sustainability priority.

Business travel is a necessary part of the way we work, as our ability to serve our clients largely depends on being able to visit their locations. It's also important for building relationships, which is at the core of our brand. However, we continue to challenge ourselves on the need, frequency and mode of travel.

We set an ambitious target to hold our emissions from business travel flat over ten years, from our 2007 baseline to 2017 - even though we expected our business to grow each year. We’ve actually exceeded that target by reducing our travel emissions by 4% in spite of significant growth in the business over that time, and more international work.  

Our approach

Our strategy for reducing travel emissions involves both reducing the number of journeys our people make and also looking for less carbon-intensive ways of working.

We've worked to reduce unnecessary business travel, encouraging both internal and client-facing teams to make better use of technology-based alternatives like online meetings and other tools that support collaborative working from different locations.

And our travel policy encourages our people, once they’ve considered the need to travel, to use our internal systems to book travel, so we can improve our management information, risk management and costs.

 

Programmes

We have several programmes to help our people take practical measures to reduce their carbon footprint:

Alternatives to travel

The simplest way to cut emissions caused by travel is to avoid it.  Technology can help us to connect with clients and colleagues effectively, so in 2012, we launched a behaviour change campaign to boost the use of online meetings, which over the years has emphasised different benefits of the technology, and specific features that aid collaboration.

More than 5,000 of our people have now completed online training in this technology, and the average number of online meetings hosted per person rose to more than seven in 2017, compared to less than one in 2012.

However, this is short of our target of 10 meetings per person as we’ve recently introduced some new online meeting solutions for which we’re currently unable to measure usage data.

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Internal controls

Our travel policy encourages our people to use our internal systems to book travel, giving us greater control over how they travel. And our requirement for senior management approval helps to challenge the assumption that flying somewhere is always the best option. It’s been a significant contributing factor in reducing our in emissions from non-client facing air travel, which have fallen by 90% from our 2007 baseline.

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Low carbon driving

We've continued to raise awareness of low carbon driving options among our staff, promoting hybrid, electric and low carbon vehicles available through our staff company car scheme.

The fleet's emissions currently average 119 g/km. This is below the industry average of 125g/km, and down from 122g/km in 2016. The average emissions for our order bank of replacement vehicles is 118 g/km.

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Support for cycling

Our participation in the Government's Cycle to Work scheme in now in its sixth year, allowing us to lend bikes and cycling safety equipment to our people as a tax-free benefit. The scheme had 215 participants this year, bringing the total to over 2,000 since we began.

We continue to reimburse our people with mileage expense payments for work-related journeys, as well as making improvements to our buildings such as double tier bike racks, extra showers, lockers and an innovative bike repair station in our More London office to help our people to keep cycling. We’ve also launched a scheme for staff to borrow Brompton bikes to cycle between our London offices at Embankment Place and More London.

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Commuting

In addition to our business travel, there is also a sizeable carbon impact from our people commuting to work. This depends, in part, on where our people live, where clients are based, and the location of our offices. We consider sustainability alongside other business needs as part of our real estate strategy and strategic business planning.

We’ve been measuring aspects of our commuting for over a decade. Getting robust data is challenging, but we’ve conducted analysis on how far and how often our people commute to different offices, as well as the mode by which they travel. This has allowed us to model our carbon emissions from commuting as approximately 14,200 tonnes CO2e.

We still have a long way to go to improve the reliability of this data, but it’s helpful in evaluating potential programmes for the future.

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Contact us

Mark Avery

Tel: +44 (0)20 7213 5102
Email

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